Wakanda forever


I don’t own any piece of furniture upholstered in Ankara. Not in my home, studio or Pinterest idea boards. What I have though, are maxi Ankara dresses hanging in my closet. Those ready-made ones from La Belle at Imenti House. I wear them to church on Sundays and to those events with a dress code that says ‘the mother-in-law is watching’.

What these Ankara pieces subtly tell the world is, “Look at me. I’m African and 34, I dictate the terms of my personal style. My skin glows with melanin. I’m a child of our roots and a protector of the motherland. I dance to the beat of our African drums. Wakanda forever.”

I don’t own any Ankara-clad furniture – I’ve said that already – but I secretly envy folk who do. I really do. I’ve been to spaces littered with such accent pieces. A modern bench here, a cocktail chair there, some throw cushions on the floor, lampshades and pots of houseplants draped in Ankara, duvet covers. I haven’t seen Ankara wallpaper. Yet.

It takes a certain palate to style your space in Ankara. A piece upholstered in Ankara says in resolute, “Look at me. I’m adventurous and boldly Pan-African. You can’t resist but steal glances at me. You wonder how much tasteful gaudiness can be contained in the seams of one handcrafted piece. You come for the cultural patterns and stay for the overt sense of Africanism. Wakanda forever.”

I don’t have the palate to style my space in Ankara. At least not yet. I’m open to it, though, because you never know where your style voice will take you.

Ankara is also gorgeous fabric. Even if you don’t fancy it for your closet or your space, you must admit it’s gorgeous. It dances in your eyes. Hypnotizes you with its dynamic patterns. It’s traditionally contemporary, stylish not trendy.

Several questions about styling my space with Ankara keep me up at night. Questions like, should I style around the Ankara furniture and accessories, or should I ask them to fit wherever they so desire? Will the pieces upset the style cohesion I’ve been conscious to create and maintain? These pieces will steal all the personality in a room, won’t they? Actually, they’ll have so much personality the room won’t contain it.

Moving away from the artsy elements, I also chew like cud, questions about the practicality of Ankara itself for daily use. Take a couch for the living room. Will the Ankara inhale and exhale with strong breaths as the family slumps down on the couch to watch some TV or rise up to get plates of food from the kitchen? Will the stitching hold its own? Does the fabric wear and tear with grace, or does it fade with an African accent?

We have a daughter; Muna is three and playfully destructive. She colours things, anything, with crayons and water paints. I picture her using the Ankara couch as her canvas – will it survive her artistic expression? Can we scrub it clean with regular detergent? Will the spot we’ve scrubbed bruise like a wound?

I spoke to a fabric purveyor. She’s only known as Juliana in the Ankara circles. A one-name influence. Like Beyonce. Juliana supplies fabric to a handful of local artisans who craft accent pieces using Ankara. I shared my concerns with her.

“Is the same fabric for clothes the same one used for upholstery and interior decor?”

“It is! You’re surprised, huh? Ha-ha. Six yards costs between 1,500 and 2,500. Just the same as the one for clothes. We source them from around East and West Africa.”

“I honestly didn’t know that. I thought they were cut from a different clothe” Catch that pun? “And how do you care for the fabric once it’s upholstered?”

Juliana exhaled loudly into the phone. There was a racket where she was. I imagined her in a workshop of fundis with their noisy Singer machines, a mist of enduring perspiration hanging low. She said, “The same way you care for your Ankara cloths is the same way to care for Ankara furniture – clean it cold water and a gentle bar soap, don’t scrub it with harsh detergents. You can also get professional cleaners to clean them for you.”

Aha! Steve of EcoWash comes to mind. Steve runs a gig that cleans cars seats and engines, furniture, rugs, carpets, mattresses and pretty much anything, using chemicals imported from Dubai. They don’t use water at all. This water-less solution is imported from Dubai.

The stuff is washed in your digs, then taken outside to dry in the sun for about 30 minutes. It smells so fresh and so clean after. None of that heavy whiff of chemicals that’d make you want to gag.

Steve and his team cleaned our furniture last December, before we began hosting guests for Christmas. It wasn’t smart timing on my part because a few days after he did the thorough job, before he’d even withdrawn the Mpesa I’d sent him, one of our tipsy guests spilled red wine on the seats. Red wine, Christ! It seeped all the way onto the white fabric beneath the cushion. Looked like a crime scene. Or a period on day three gone wrong. I almost collapsed.

Anyway, Juliana continued, “Kenya has the craftsmanship and material to build quality Ankara pieces, so yes, our furniture can last as long as furniture upholstered from other types of imported fabric.”

You know what the English say about pudding – the proof is in the eating. I’ll start with a spoonful, thank you very much. GB, my hubbae (I hate that word, hahaa), brought an old round ottoman from his bachelor pad. It’s very ugly but sturdy, weighty with sentimental value – I’ll have it reupholstered in Ankara, then mature from there.

Maybe one day I’ll surprise everyone and reupholster our entire dining room out of the fabric of my Ankara dresses.

An edited version of this story first ran in the Saturday Nation, under my Crafts and Culture column. Look out for it every Saturday.

Crave Kitchen: a story in Photos

Comments (2)

  1. Wambui

    It’s always such a treat to read from you!

    • Bett

      Same goes to you, Wambui. I like to hear back from you guys, our readers.

      Can I tell you something? And promise you won’t tell? I feel terrible that I’m consistent writing everywhere else but here. Worse when folk ask, How come you don’t write anymore for Craft It? I need to pull up my socks. Hehhe.

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Florence Bett-Kinyatti


Columnist Saturday Nation Writer Craft It Author of best-selling ‘SHOULD I?’ and ‘HOW MUCH?’ ~ Guiding word: Overdrive Subscribe to our Newsletter👇🏾 eepurl.com/igmN8P
  • Dear God, 
It’s me again.

I don’t pray as often as I need to, You know that. I don’t kneel by my bed in child-like humility, as Muna does. I don’t whisper a prayer in the morning. Or at noon. Perhaps just in the evening. 

This going-to-church habit is a constant false start. So is reading the Word. 

I’m often guilty but I also know: You and I have a language only we can understand. 

I speak to You through this gift You bestowed upon my Kale shoulders, this gift to write in colour. It’s a gift that sometimes feels like a curse, a burden I have no choice but to pursue. 

Yet other times – most times, actually – it’s the very breath of my essence. Everyday I sit to write, when the words flow from my head and heart through my fingers to the page, I feel You next to me. 

You are here, Lord. Hovering. Lingering. Swooshing about in Your regal robes, like a character from Bridgerton.

Sometimes You get so close I can feel You breathing on my neck and I’m like, ‘Err, God, do You mind, personal space?’

And You chuckle uncomfortably. ‘He-he, of course. Of course.’

I’m here to tell You, Thanks!

I hosted my first in-person event last March, Lord, thank You to all the lovely ladies who granted me their time and full attention. 

I’ve carried them in my heart since and every day, my prayer is that You bring them closer to the life of abundance they each seek. To their own version of wealth. 

I always call them by their name: Becky. Purity. Lindsay. Wangui. Naomi. Shiqow. Mercy. Liz. Winnie. Polly. Nduta. Lynet. 

And Mike. 

Dear Lord, I’m prepping for my next in-person event in June, Inshallah. 

Walk with me as I get there. 

Love always,

  • Highlights from our first-ever in person event hosted by Craft It and @financialfitbit 
Thanks to all the lovely ladies — and gent, hehe — who honoured us with the privilege of their time and attention. And colourful energy. It’s been weeks since and it’s only now that I’m coming down from the high. 

Thank YOU!

🎥 @mikemuthaka 

#craftit #author #MakeYourMoneyMatter #personalfinance #money
  • I am a woman.

I’m strong. I’m brilliant. I’m like a comet shooting across the sky, I’m so bright you have to put on shades to see me.

I’m almost 40, I’m almost fully realising myself as a woman and the power of womanhood I possess.

I’m so powerful that if KPLC connected me to the national grid, I’d power up this country and we’d never have another blackout.

Ho! Ho! Ho!


To recognize and celebrate International Women’s Day today, I’d like to recognize and celebrate eight women.

I have eight things to give away to each of these women:
a) Two tickets to my upcoming event on March 18 with @financialfitbit Theme is ‘Make your money matter’
b) Three autographed copies of my book ‘Should I?’
c) Three autographed copies of my other book ‘How Much?’

To participate:
1. Like this post
2. Tag women who deserve a win of either event ticket or book (tag as many women as you like)
3. Tell us what you’d like her to win and why she deserves the win
4. Make sure your tagged women follow @_craftit and @financialfitbit 

Here are the rules for the giveaway:
— One woman, one win
— Winners will be contacted via DM
— Giveaway closes at the end of this week, Inshallah, on Sunday 12 March
— Only open to people living in Kenya

All the best!

(Swipe right to see the women I’m celebrating.)

#craftit #internationalwomensday
  • My 2022 word of the year was Wholesome. 

Wholesome meant engaging in moderation and in pursuits that didn’t leave me feeling yucky.

An example: there’re weekend nights I’d go out then have too much to drink. On the drive home, I’d tell GB to stop the car every half mile so I could throw up on the side of the road. Then I’d take three working days recovering. 


No more of that nonsense.

Now I have only two doubles of Singleton whiskey and chase it with water. I eat less food and I eat better. I take my supplements. I treat myself to an early bedtime and arise with my body clock, no alarm.

I spend a lot more time hanging with my kids, Muna and Njeeh. 

I buy fewer things. 

I play the piano. 

I created a disciplined routine for my work and take Thursdays off. 

You catch my drift…

Wholesome has become my lifestyle. 

(By the way, I was asked, ‘Where does this word-of-the-year come from, Bett?’ I don’t know about other people but for me, the words present themselves when I’m journaling. My spirit tells me what it needs; I must be still enough to listen and brave enough to obey.)

My word for 2023 is Overdrive.

My two books have unlocked new opportunities for me as a writer and creative. As an urban brand. I’d honestly not foreseen them. 

I know that if I adjust my sails to where the wind is blowing, these opportunities will translate to wealth.

Last Friday, I listed all the work I’m already doing and all the new opportunities – potential and realised – knocking at my door.

I asked myself, ‘What am I taking up here and what am I dropping?’

The response, ‘None – we go into overdrive and smartly pursue them all.’

#craftit #urbanguide
  • Years ago, my best friend said to me, ‘Bett, we’re almost 40 – forget makeup, let’s take care of our skin instead.’

I had to laugh because this was coming from Terry. Terry my Kisii pal, this fine gyal with skin the colour of honey, the only practising SDA in my circle. 

Terry had spent her 20s and early 30s sleek with Arimis. That’s right, the milking jelly with a lactating cow on its logo. 

Arimis addressed all her skin pickles back then. It was her problem fixer. Her Olivia Pope. It’s the one thing that always said, It’s handled.

Now here she was preaching to us about a consistent skincare regimen in the AM and PM.


It wasn’t until Terry shared her selfies on our girls WhatsApp group that I stopped laughing. It wasn’t until we stood next her – and took these selfies – that I reeally stopped laughing: Terry’s skin was youthful and toned, plump. Hydrated. Moistured but not shiny. 

It looked like it had been kissed by the Greek goddess of radiance. 

So we gathered around her feet and said, ‘Forgive us, master. We are ready now. Teach us everything you know.’

She did. 

Terry and I now spend plenty of time before work and before bed squeezing out little portions of expensive skincare products from expensive tubes, we layer them on our face in a calculated measure.

This serum here is for the circles under my eyes and the fine lines around my mouth.

Turns out I’ve been giving away too much of my face: I’ve been looking too hard, laughing too easily.

I’ll have to spend the next year into my 40s with my eyes half shut and laughing little. I'll have a resting bitch face.

Don’t blame me, blame the retinol.

And age.

#craftit #urbanguide #urbangirl
  • I’m Bett. I’m the author of your favourite books about money. I’m hosting an in-person event in March, Inshallah: This is my personal invite to you.

#craftit #moneymaker #moneyinkenya
  • I am hosting my first money event this March, Inhsallah. It’s the first of quarterly events I have planned for the year. 

(Give me a moment here so I pull myself together long enough to write this. I’m smiling very hard right now, ha-ha, I look like a donkey.)


The event will be in-person. On a Saturday morning, a loose three hours which, I am certain, you’d have burned on some other pursuit you couldn’t account for later. (I’d probably be oiling the hinges of a squeaky door or decluttering my sock drawer.)

My guest host for this edition is Lynet Kyalo. 

Lynet is a personal finance coach under her brand @financialfitbit She also hosts @getyourbagrightpodcast 

Buy your tickets from our Market.

Early bird tickets are discounted until the end of this month.

Limited slots available. 

#craftit #millenialmoney #moneyevent #moneymaker
  • Sometimes I sit down and read my own book. 

Odd, huh?

Reading my own stories is like an out-of-body experience. Or getting introduced to myself again. An outward journey inward.

It’s fascinating.

I also read because I need to improve my writing for my next project.

We call them the Elements of Craft: things like sentence structure and punctuation, word placement, story length etc, they all inform your reading experience.

This is what makes the book easy to read, and has you turning the pages.

Cop your autographed copy and #betteryourmoney 

#craftit #howmuch #millenialmoney #moneymaker

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